There’s something about Hawaii that easily won the award for my favorite place ever. As I was writing this blog post at Starbucks, I was taking breaks to look at rental properties in Oahu and some guy asked me if I was in real estate! Haha!! Nope, I just want to move to Hawaii. Out of the states and countries I have been to, Hawaii takes the cake. I got to visit exactly two years ago with my friend Megan and it was the best trip of the life. I was in a tough time in my life when I went to Hawaii last time and all I wanted afterwards was to move there. I tried my hardest to make it work but despite my efforts, no one I knew in Hawaii was looking for a place to live and I had a feeling it was a closed door.
But I knew that didn’t mean I’d never get to go again. I was waiting for the opportunity and I ended up finding a good deal on a flight after my friend Hannah and I had chatted about going. I messaged a friend who lived there and asked if she’d be interested in letting us stay with her. I didn’t get my hopes up because I knew there was a good chance it might not work out. But a couple weeks after I asked, she said we could come and I booked our flights!
At this point, I already knew a little about the island so it was easier to plan the trip. I started making a list of all my favorite things from last time that I wanted Hannah to do and also made a list of some new things I wanted to do this time around. I couldn’t believe I was going again! I drove up to DC the night before we were supposed to leave and we woke up at a brutal 3AM to catch our 6AM flight. We spent twelve hours on a plane that day and by the time we set foot on the island, I could have cried.
We managed to get our bags and first, we headed to pick up our rental car. When it comes to flights, cars, and where I’m sleeping, I am a major money saver! So naturally, I booked the cheapest car, which I thought was going to be a Ford Focus. Totally fine. We got to the checkout in Honolulu to grab our car and the woman asked if we wanted to upgrade to a convertible. Hannah and I looked at each other and laughed because obviously we wanted a convertible. But we weren’t going to pay for it. I said, “I wish!! Unfortunately we aren’t interested in spending any more money.” She didn’t say anything and I had a feeling something was up. Well, we start walking to our reserved spot and with each passing number in the parking spots, I keep getting closer and closer to a red convertible Mustang. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was when I realized that she upgraded us for free. I’m the type of person who gets so overwhelmed by acts of kindness like that so I couldn’t stop squealing. The most hilarious part came when Hannah and I went to fit our suitcases in the tiny trunk and barely got them in there. HA! What an adventure. So worth it, though.
This trip we were staying on the North Shore with Sunny and her family which was a dream because last time I didn’t get to see that much of the North Shore! Our first day we rode around in the convertible, letting Sunny take us to some of her favorite beaches and roadside fruit stands! We had to drop Sunny off with a friend later that day so the rest of the day was exploring for Hannah and I. I had pinned a bunch of places on Google Maps, including a beach swing. I wasn’t sure of the exact location but we ended up finding it on our first day!! I could have swung there all day long!
There was a forecast of cloudy and rainy weather for the entire week we were supposed to be there but thankfully it continued to change to sun with each passing day. Hawaii’s weather is very unpredictable and there are parts of the island that tend to be rainy while others tend to be dry so I kept that in mind when we chose what to do each day! 🙂 I was SO grateful for sunshine. But we didn’t know if it would keep up so the next day we hung out at Ko’Olina all day which is one of my favorite spots. It tends to be drier on the leeward side of Oahu (west side) and that’s where Ko’Olina is so I knew it would probably be nice. I did get made fun of a bit for this considering it’s not where the locals go but it’s a lagoon at a resort and there’s food, drinks, shopping, and coffee within walking distance. 🙂 There are also comfy chairs and cabanas to sit under so although it’s not my favorite beach (that would be Lanikai), it’s nice if you want to stay at the beach all day because you don’t have to bring a cooler or chairs. 🙂 After the sun went down and we got hit on by some guys (honestly a highlight of the trip… they were quite the entertainment), we went to Pali Lookout which is something I didn’t get to do two years ago! It was beautiful and we may have snuck over the railing to get some epic photos. 🙂 If you travel with me I’ll probably make you trespass. Haha! Always worth it!
We explored nonstop while we were there and fit so much into one full day! Traveling with me often looks a little like waking up at 7:30AM and being out of the house by 8:30 so we can see and do as much as possible. In fact, we did SO much that I’m not able to keep our days straight. Haha!! Some of my favorites from this trip were seeing Makapu’u again, coffee at Arvo in downtown Honolulu, getting acai bowls every morning, going to Duke’s Waikiki, having Sunny take us to a really private beach with crystal clear water, ATVing at Kualoa (where Lost, 50 First Dates, and Jurassic World were filmed), driving all around the island with the top down in our car, and hanging out at Turtle Bay Resort the last day before we caught our plane. We may not have slept much and I may be suffering from a severe cold now because of it but it’s all worth it for this gorgeous place. I love that Oahu is small and you’ll never drive more than 1.5 hours to get anywhere. I think that’s why I adore island living. It’s very slow paced and everyone is just happy to be living in a place where they can wake up and see the ocean every day. So if you haven’t visited Hawaii, GO! And take me with you. 🙂 I left a list below of most of the main things we did while we were there and where they’re all located! Hopefully this will be helpful to those of you planning a trip having no idea where to start planning!
Waimea Bay (lots of big waves in the winter)
Mokuleia Beach Park
Haleiwa Bowls (best acai bowl of my life)
Laniakea Beach (turtles are often there)
Turtle Bay (fun place to grab lunch or a drink)
Sprout (yummy sandwiches)
Seven Brothers At the Mill (great burgers)
Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonades (I really regret not going here)
All the food trucks along the North Shore
Coffee Gallery (cute coffeeshop and shopping area)
Kualoa Ranch (horse back riding, ATV tours, movie tours, etc.)
Beach Swing (on Kamehameha Highway, right on the beach)
Sacred Falls (we didn’t get to do this because apparently it’s illegal but it’s looks incredible)
Byodo-In Temple (beautiful sight)
Prima (Italian restaurant in Kailua that I heard was amazing)
Lanikai Beach (my favorite beach)
Lanikai Pillboxes (easy but absolutely breathtaking hike — even better at sunrise)
Waikiki (there are fireworks every Friday night and there’s really cheap parking down by Hilton Hawaiian Village if you don’t mind walking)
Duke’s Wakiki (a staple while you’re visiting but go during the day — it gets crazy busy at night)
Arvo (cutest coffeeshop in Honolulu)
Island Brew Coffeehouse (it’s right on the water!)
Hanauma Bay (great for snorkeling but you have to pay — if you want to snorkel for free you could probably go to Makapu’u which is super close)
Halona Blowhole Lookout
Ko’Olina (where Disney’s Aulani resort is — there’s free parking at the Nai’a Lagoon and I usually walk to the third one, which is Honu Lagoon, I believe)